Despatch Grade R teacher best in province

2019-11-21 06:00
Asja-Leah Strydom, the best Grade R teacher in Eastern Cape Province from Despatch Preparatory School together with Grade R learners (from left) Abenathi Lukas, Anezwa Mni, Jordyn-Skye Rossouw and Iviwe Bruintjies.                  Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

Asja-Leah Strydom, the best Grade R teacher in Eastern Cape Province from Despatch Preparatory School together with Grade R learners (from left) Abenathi Lukas, Anezwa Mni, Jordyn-Skye Rossouw and Iviwe Bruintjies. Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

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A teacher from Despatch was nominated as the best Grade R teacher in the Eastern Cape and is now, together with nine finalists from other provinces, in the running for the ultimate achievement of being named the most outstanding Grade R teacher in South Africa.

Asja-Leah Strydom, a Grade R teacher and head of department at Despatch Preparatory School, was nominated for the National Teaching Award in the category Excellence in Grade R teaching. She won both at district and provincial level.

“I found in teaching the calling that I need to be in life,” said Strydom.

“Making teaching exciting, is the biggest thing to me. I can’t handle a class room where it’s standardised. We re-enact everything, teaching to me is physical, it is full body interactive.

“Seeing the children when they realize they can do something for the first time, the expression on their faces saying ... ‘look teacher, I did it, I did it ...’ is fulfilling beyond words. It gives me a passion for teaching.

Every child has a talent

“Every child has an amazing talent that is just waiting to be found. And that is why I go out of my way to find it in Grade R’s,” said Strydom.

The National Teaching Awards is a way in which the Department of Basic Education annually acknowledges and encourages dedicated and caring teachers in their efforts to develop each learner as a citizen of a democratic, non- racial and non-sexist South Africa.

Madeléne Sachse, principal at Despatch Preparatory School said, “Asja is a dynamic, creative, inspiring, impulsive and energetic teacher. She is like a wild horse winning the Durban July, but the bell has not rung yet.

“Her inquisitive nature makes her a brilliant teacher and she captures the learners’ attention and inspires them to learn.”

As a qualified public relations officer who did marketing for several years, Strydom has expert communication and organisational skills. This, combined with her deep knowledge and passion for teaching, not only gives her the ability to build caring relationships with learners, but also in the community as a whole.

According to Strydom, children’s behaviour over a period of six years since she started teaching has changed.

“What worries me is that children are becoming more and more nervy to play outside. They believe they need to be inside, watching screens all the time.

“That is very worrying as the contrary is essential. They need to play outdoors. They need to touch, feel and see to develop.

“Another issue that I’ve noticed over this period is the increase of visual issues. More and more children have to wear glasses. This is due to their spending far too much time looking at screens,” said Strydom.

To her the X-factor of being a good teacher includes, “... to have a sense of humour. I do not think you can teach foundation phase without a massive sense of humour.

“You also have to spend time each day to connect with each and every child. I want to be ‘that go-to-teacher’ when something is worrying them.

“Then there is translanguaging. Any know-ledge that you have in any language is valid knowledge. Whether you speak English, Xhosa or Afrikaans, a child needs to express him or herself.

“My goodness, when those different languages start coming in, the knowledge and understanding that the children have that one assumes do not exist, is absolutely amazing,” said Strydom.

Strydom together with four other teachers (finalists in other categories) from the Eastern Cape will now have to conduct their presentations at a prestige event in Johannesburg on Monday, November 25th, to determine the national winners of the various categories. The winners will be announced early 2020.

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” (John Steinbeck)

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